Review: HVOB- Rocco

Shannon Durazo

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The mention of the “electro-pop” genre may garner a distinctive foul look from any Moroder or Kraftwerk purist, brought on by the troubling remembrance that hit-makers like Calvin Harris or worse—The Chainsmokers are considered members of the genre. Despite this assumption, the reality is modern electro-pop music has more versatility and depth than ever before. A good example of this versatility is the new record, Rocco, by Viennese duo HVOB. Where modern club music is often associated with shallow lyrical content, the new HVOB record defies this by dipping into more reflective and melancholic narratives.

A multidimensional experience, Rocco gives careful attention to the variety of emotions running through it, while also staying true to its genre with danceable beats. The album is constructed with a range of emotive keys, pulsing club drums, and the wispy, dream-like vocals of Anna Muller. Different tracks have different arrangements; the fragility and slow-burn of “Bloom” is a far cry from the industrial punch of “Butter.” Where similar artists like The xx and Sylvan Esso may market themselves off of a signature mood, HVOB is unique in their range of feelings. Gritty synth is implemented to mirror excitement in 4/4 dance-tracks like “Twyker” and the anthemic opener “2 nd world,” while the melodic softness of the tracks “Zinc” and “Shinici” bring a completely different feeling. But, these differences don’t cause conflict, but co-exist for the sake of conceptual wholeness.

In addition to exploring emotion, Rocco in itself is also a conceptual statement that counteracts the hyper-consumption of electronic music these days. The band took several years to create, record and release their music into the world, unlike many others who toss out as many danceable table-scraps as they can to keep the public’s attention. The record displays an assured self-confidence that suits the group well. HVOB are aware they have been gone a while, but also pride themselves in the ability to give their musical narrative the time it needs to be properly executed. They may be doomed to the commercial standards set by their “electropop” label, but HVOB are able to take the label and assuredly transcend it into something bigger.

RIYL: Stereolab, Sylvan Esso, The xx

REC TRACKS: 1,3,9